Decanter Feb 2018

The February 2018 edition of Decanter - released on Friday, December 29th - features

  • panel reviews of Northern Rhone reds (Côte-Rotie, Hermitage and Cornas) from the much-vaunted 2015 vintage and New Zealand Chardonnay;
  • an Expert's Choice review of Georgia (NB: the one south of Russia, not the one north of Florida);
  • an extensive Italian supplement;
  • "30 Best from the New World under £30"
  • a review of wines made from Carignan; 
  • and all the usuals (Spurrier's Choice, Weekday Wines etc).

See below for the wines we have available from this edition. 

To see all of our Decanter-listed wines from the last 15 months, click here. 

 

 

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Francois & Fils Cote-Rotie 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 95 points and an Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition review of Northern Rhone 2015 (see blue link below).

Francois & Fils Cote-Rotie 2015 - February 2018 Decanter review

The François family have been traditional farmers for four generations - their main activity is making farmhouse cheeses from the milk from their twenty-five cows, which they sell at local markets across the Rhône Valley. They began bottling their own Côte-Rôtie in 1991, expanding it further when their son Yoann joined the business in 2004. Today, the François family owns four hectares in Côte-Rôtie. Grapes from the young vines are sold to négociants or are used for their earlier drinking IGP Syrah. Only the best and most expressive grapes are used to make their Côte-Rôtie.

The François family owns approximately four hectares of vines. Its Côte-Rôtie is made using grapes from three South-facing parcelles: 'Les Rochains', 'Rozier' and 'Le Bourrier' which account for about 1.5 hectares. All three vineyards are located in the 'Côte Brune' in the Northern Rhône. The vineyards are very steep, as they usually are in this area, and grapes can only be harvested by hand. The soil, mainly composed of mica-schist, is rich in minerals and has proven a good base for the 30-year-old vines of Syrah and Viognier. The vines are planted at a density of 8,000 to 9,000 per hectare and yields are 35 to 40 hectolitres per hectare.

Parcels were vinified separately and then blended to make a wine with great balance and layers of complexity. Both batches were aged for 18 months in 20% new oak barrels (228-litre and 400-litre), before the wine was blended and bottled. In the Côte-Rôtie tradition, it was made with 5% Viognier and leaving around 30% of the stems on the Syrah. 

Superbly concentrated with aromas of blackcurrants, brambles and blackberries and a delicious jammy character. It is well structured with richness and good density. Spices linger on the long finish.

£37.55

Dauvergne Ranvier Vin Rare Cote Rotie 2015 (1 x 75cl)

Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition review of Northern Rhone 2015 (see blue link below).

Dauvergne Ranvier, Vin Rare Cote-Rotie - February 2018 Decanter review

Jean-François Ranvier and François Dauvergne teamed up to create a very unique approach to building a brand focused on quality from vine to finished wine.

The vineyard is situated on the Cote Brune to the north of the city of Ampuis where there are very steep slopes.The wine is harvested from mid September until early October. Following this the wine is fermented for around 25 days before being matured in French oak casks for 18 months.

Dark, winey and grippy, with lots of bramble and fresh bay leaf notes wrapped around a core of dark currant, fig and blackberry compote flavors.  They meld slowly, working through a dark, humus-, ganache-, and tar-coated finish.  Brooding in profile, this will take some time to stretch out fully.  Best from 2022 through 2035.

£35.00

Domaine & Maison Les Alexandrins Cote Rotie 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and a Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition review of Northern Rhone 2015 (see blue link below).

Maison Les Alexandrins Cote Rotie 2015 - February 2018 Decanter review

Domaine & Maison Les Alexandrins came into being with the collaboration of three figures of the Northern Rhone Valley: Nicolas Jaboulet, Guillaume Sorrel, and Alexandre Caso. They came together in 2012 when Nicolas Jaboulet (head of Maison Nicolas Perrin) and Guillaume Sorrel along with Alexandre Caso (who together founded Domaine Les Alexandrins in Mercurol) began working in Crozes-Hermitage for Maison Nicolas Perrin. Their shared knowledge of the terroir, and their appreciation of the great wines of their region quickly inspired them to go even further together.  From 2015, Maison Nicolas Perrin took a majority share in Domaine Les Alexandrins. Their collaboration made it possible to pursue the dream of Domaine Les Alexandrins – that of making Northern Rhone wines that embody pure classicism – and to expand on their reputation - already long acclaimed for quality across all the appellations of the Northern Rhone.

The vineyard of Côte Rôtie is located on the hills of the right bank of the Rhône river. The vineyard is located at an altitude ranging between 180 and 325 metres and is composed of 73 localities. The main stone is granite covered in places by schist but also sand and calcareous soils. For the most part, this wine comes from the southern part of the appellation; Côte Blonde and Coteau de Tupin. Domaines & Maison Les Alexandrins wished to make wines with great distinction but also with elegance and finesse rather than wines from the north that tend to be harder and more powerful. 

For the northern Rhone Valley, 2015 was a truly exceptional year, almost without precedent! After a mild, wet winter and particularly high temperatures in spring, summer brought a heatwave even hotter than 2003. Welcome rain arrived in abundance in mid-August, followed anew by glorious sunshine and a providential wind that guaranteed perfect sanitary conditions and a regular and rapid ripening of the grapes. And so the harvest benefited from optimum conditions during the first two weeks of September.

The grapes are cold-macerated before being fermented to increase the aromas of fruit. Maceration and fermentation for about 20 days with pumping-over for the first few days followed by punching-down. Ageing in 1-year-old barrels for 15 months.

This 2015 Côte-Rôtie stands out among the best. Dense and dark in colour, this wine expresses an intoxicating bouquet of fresh, floral, cold ash, black olive and ripe cherry notes. It has a lot of power and elegance. The mouth is balanced expressing a pretty structure. Dense and silky tannins, powerful and very aromatic finish.

This wine needs to be decanted at least an hour before serving. Drink in its youth. Slow roasted lamb is a great match for this wine.

£40.75

Domaine Yves Cuilleron Cote Rotie 2015 Madiniere (1x 75cl)

Awarded 93 points and a Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition review of Northern Rhone 2015 (see blue link below).

Yves Cuilleron Madiniere Cote Rotie 2015 - February 2018 Decanter review

Having trained as a mechanic, Yves got bitten by the wine bug in the 1980s. So when his uncle retired in 1987, Yves jumped at the chance to run the family estate. At the time, Condrieu was relatively unknown, and Yves’ perfectionist approach from vine-planting to wine bottling resulted in wines that were to grab the attention of both consumers and critics – making them hugely in-demand, and raising the profile of the appellation as a whole.

Even though he is most famous for his Condrieu, don’t overlook Yves’ red wines from St-Joseph and Côte Rôtie which are made to the same exacting standards. 4 ha of south/southeast facing vines on the north of AOP. “Madinière” is not the district but the name of the stream at the foot of the hill.

No insecticides few treatments (depending on weather), small amount of organic-only fertiliser, with respect of soil and vine balance. Vigour and yield control, leaf-thinning and green harvesting to promote grape maturation.

Vinification: the grapes are hand-picked; and then sorted, crushed and partially destemmed in the cellar. Fermented in open, temperature-controlled vats for about 3 weeks, with regular cap-punching and pumping-over. Malolactic-fermented in barriques with native yeasts. Ageing is for 18 months in barriques.

Intensely purple/black in colour, almost opaque. The nose is a concentrated wall of spices, mineral tones and dark berry fruits. Deeply concentrated, tight and seriously well structured, the palate is immense in its breadth and length showing a wealth of blackberry, fruits of the forest and spiced, wooded flavours. The firm finish means you won't forget this one easily.

£47.00

Carrick Chardonnay 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition review of New Zealand Chardonnay (see blue link below).

Carrick Bannockburn Central Otago - February 2018 Decanter review

It’s 20 years now since Steve and Barbara Green established the first of Carrick’s vineyard plantings on the Cairnmuir terraces at Bannockburn in Central Otago, extending the estate four years later. What was at the time a tangle of wild thyme and briar roses has become one of the region’s most successful producers. Francis Hutt wisely spent a year in the vineyards with viticulturist Blair Deaker before taking over as Carrick’s winemaker in 2011. A devotee of organic and biodynamic wines, he took particular pride in taking charge of Carrick’s first organic bottlings in 2012. Meanwhile, Steve Green somehow combines the roles of owner, general manager, assistant winemaker, marketer and overseas traveller with a position on the board of Wine New Zealand.

After gentle whole-bunch pressing, the chardonnay juice was gravity feed into French oak barrels, (10% new) with a high grape solids content to add interest and texture. All lots were fermented with indigenous yeast and the barrels were stirred daily during fermentation then left to rest and settle over the winter months.

Tropical fruits along with the cool climate attributes of Central Otago combine to make a truly amazing Chardonnay that could rival anything else in the world. It is a flinty elegant wine with good structure and balance. Barrel fermented in French oak.

Perfect with seafood and white meat dishes like chicken pie, prawn linguine and dover sole.

£16.70

Greywacke Chardonnay 2014 (1x75cl)

This wine was awarded 89 points and Highly Recommended status in Decanter's February 2018 review of New Zealand Chardonnay. They say "An elegant Chardonnay beaming with tropical fruit, pineapple, ginger and creme brulee sprinkled with toasted hazelnuts, finishing with a warm lick."

Greywacke was created in 2009 by Kevin Judd, chief winemaker at Cloudy Bay from its inception for 25 years and instrumental in the international recognition which Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc enjoys now. The name 'Greywacke' was adopted by Kevin for his first Marlborough vineyard located in Rapaura in recognition of the high prevalence of rounded greywacke river stones in the soils of the vineyard, a sedimentary rock which is widely found in Marlborough. Kevin Judd is also New Zealand's finest wine photographer and has recently published a book 'The Landscape of New Zealand Wine'.

The grapes for this wine are primarily sourced from the low-yielding Mendoza clone, known for its concentration of flavour and crisp acidity; the balance were from Clone 95. The majority of the fruit was sourced from the lower reaches of the Brancott Valley and Fairhall, grown in gravelly, clay-loam soils, the remainder coming from Rapaura, grown in young alluvial soils containing high proportions of New Zealand’s ubiquitous greywacke river stones. All vineyards were trained on a two-cane VSP trellis.

The vineyards were hand-picked separately at high ripeness levels and fruit was whole bunch pressed. The resulting juice was lightly settled and racked to French oak barriques (20% new).The juice underwent spontaneous indigenous yeast fermentation, the final phase continuing for many months. The wine received occasional lees stirring and underwent a complete malolactic fermentation. It was transferred out of oak after 18 months and bottled in December 2015.

A deliciously rich amalgam of pink grapefruit, figs and baked apples intertwine with more savoury characters redolent of meadow hay, toasted hazelnuts and buttered brioche. This grapefruit and nutty savouriness pervades the crisp, dry palate, while the power and concentration of the Mendoza clone creates an extraordinarily long finish that lingers and lingers.

£24.50

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Chardonnay 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points and a Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition review of New Zealand Chardonnay (see blue link below).

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay 2016 - February 2018 Decanter review

Since its inception in 1993, partners John Hancock, who has been making wine in New Zealand for over 35 years, and Robert and Robyn Wilson, owners of The Bleeding Heart and The Don in London, have made Trinity Hill a byword for quality and consistency. Winemaker Warren Gibson has been with Trinity Hill since 1997. He is also in charge of the 80 hectares of vineyard owned by Trinity Hill, of which 47 are in the Gimblett Gravels. The Gimblett Gravels, planted on the former bed of the Ngaruroro River, is now a highly sought after sub-region renowned for the quality of its wines. The Trinity Hill wines have an elegance, balance, drinkability and precision of flavour. This estate was one of the first to plant grapes on the Gimblett Gravels in 1993.

The Gimblett Gravels winegrowing area is a small sub-region in the Hawkes Bay, defined by a very unique stony soil type. This wine is sourced from Estate grown grapes in the Tin Shed and Winery vineyards.

Hand-harvested fruit was gently pressed and fermented with indigenous yeast in 500-litre French oak puncheons. The wild yeast helped to add complexity and texture. Malolactic fermentation was encouraged to soften acidity and give further richness. The wine was aged for 11 months in large 500 litre puncheons (of which 40% were new). This was followed by a further 4 months in tank on lees.

The wine has flavours of citrus, white flowers and ripe grapefruit. The style is mid-weight with elegant oak providing texture and lingering flavours of cashew, roasted hazelnut and gun flint. The structure has a tight shape with the finesse and concentration that are hallmarks of Trinity Hill Chardonnay. It displays delicacy but richness and the beautifully linear acidity makes it a fantastic match with food.

£19.75

Amalaya Malbec, Tannat, Petit Verdot 2016 (1 x 75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition article 30 Great New World Buys under £30 (see blue link below).

Amalaya Malbec/Tannat/PV 2016 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

Amalaya translates to ‘hope for a miracle’ in the indigenous language of the now extinct tribe, the Calchaquí. The winery is situated in Cafayate, Calchaquí Valley in Salta in the far north of Argentina at nearly 1,828 metres above sea level. It is a part of the Hess Family Estates and is run with the same dedication to quality, sustainability and social responsibility as the other Hess Estates. All of the Amalaya wines are fruit driven in style, with a finesse that unites them. These wines offer incredible value for their quality and truly reflect their ‘sense of place‘.

The estate's vineyards are located in the Cafayate Valley in the very heart of the Calchaqui Valley, distinguished for being the highest wine region in the world. The climate here is very dry, with just 150mm of rain in an average year and huge temperature fluctuations of around 20°C. The soils here are rocky, poor and sandy so the roots of the vines are forced to dig deep to find the vital nutrients and water they need, which in turn results in a huge concentration of flavour within the fruit.

2016 was a challenging vintage in Argentina with the lowest production in 20 years, around 40% below the previous year. Quality however was very good due to a dry and healthy vintage which allowed grapes to reach optimum maturity. 

After careful sorting by hand at the winery, the grapes underwent four days of cold maceration followed by a slow alcoholic fermentation. Maceration on the skins lasted around 18-20 days to extract good levels of colour and tannins. Malolactic fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks and once complete, 25% of the wine was aged in French oak for a period of 10 months.

This wine has a deep ruby red colour with purple edges. There are intense fruity aromas of red berries, raspberries and floral notes with a touch of spice and chocolate. It is well structured, fresh and fruity in the mouth with soft and rounded tannins. Velvety with a long finish.

 

£12.50

Clonakilla Hilltops Shiraz 2016 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition article 30 Great New World Buys under £30 (see blue link below).

Clonakilla Hilltops Shiraz 2016 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

Dr John Kirk founded Clonakilla vineyard at Murrumbateman, 40 kilometres north of Canberra, in 1971 after his scientific curiosity led him to question why vines were not being grown in this area. His research showed that the soil and climate seemed suited to certain varieties. Clonakilla means 'meadow of the church' and is the name of theDr Kirk's grandfather's farm in County Clare, Ireland. In 1997 Tim Kirk, the fourth of John's six sons, took over responsibility for winemaking. Today, Clonakilla is recognised as one of the leading estates in Australia. Tim was named Gourmet Traveller Winemaker of the Year in 2013.

The grapes for this Shiraz were selected from four vineyards in the Hilltops district around Young in New South Wales, the Canberra District’s closest neighbouring wine region. The altitude is marginally lower than Canberra so the grapes tend to come in around two weeks before those grown on the estate. Soils are deep red loam over light clay, giving distinctive blackberry and blackcurrant notes to the wine.

The grapes were destemmed and fermented warm in a variety of open fermenters from 1t to 10t. Each batch has either nil or up to 20% whole bunches and are soaked on skins for 2-3 weeks and then pressed to barrel. The wine is matured for 11 months in central forest Allier oak barriques and puncheons, 15% new and the balance 2-5 years old. The wine was racked once during its maturation in oak, blended in November and bottled in late February the following year.

The 2016 vintage continues a run of warm vintages for the Hilltops region. The vineyards appear to take the heat in their stride however. The vines responded by producing rich black Shiraz with great depth of flavour.

Plenty of ripe dark plum and blackberry fruits on the nose. Chocolate and mocha too. The palate has bright, mid-weight red plum and cherry fruits wrapped in lithe, supple tannins. The Hilltops Shiraz 2016 has a nice balance and is really approachable. 

Drink now or cellar with confidence. This wine may surprise and delight you with five to ten years in the bottle.

£20.40

De Martino Gallardia del Itata Moscatel Corinto 2016 (6 x 75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition article 30 Great New World Buys under £30 (see blue link below).

De Martino Gallardia Itata 2016 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

The philosphy of the De Martino family is simple but effective: "From the beginning of our winery in 1934, we have worked to create wines that represent us as a family. Our philosophy is summarized in creating wines that reflect their origin in the purest way possible, bringing origin and balance together. Our agricultural practices are based on organic principles and timely harvest, with the aim of achieving balanced wines. Our wines are exclusively fermented with native yeasts, disregarding enological components that may alter their personality. Likewise, aging is made in stainless steel, concrete, 5.000 litres foudres, used barriques (in average ten years old), so that the imprint of our wines reflects their origin without alterations."

This white wine is made using 70% Moscatel and 30% Corinto grapes from vines that were planted in 1905.

£67.80

El Abasto Malbec Bonarda 2016 (6 x 75cl)

Awarded 89 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition article 30 Great New World Buys under £30 (see blue link below).

El Abasto Malbec-Bonarda 2016 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

A brilliant blend of Malbec and Bonarda with lifted aromatics and stemmy freshness.

£59.40

Elgin Ridge Chaos White Blend 2016 (6 x 50cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition article 30 Great New World Buys under £30 (see blue link below).

Elgin Ridge Chaos White Blend 2016 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

Brian and Marion Smith sold their successful London IT business to pursue their dreams of making outstanding wines in small quantities. After much searching they found the perfect setting to fulfill their ambition in the Elgin Valley of South Africa. The vineyards are certified as organic and biodynamic.  Maddox the Percheron horse helps with weed control as do the ducks that run through the vines eating any weeds that Maddox has ploughed up! 

"Chaos White is the expression of the fruit for which cool climate Elgin wines are known, paired with winemaking techniques - stepping away from the norm - to showcase the versatility of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon." says Elgin's winemaker Kosie

Please note that this wine is presented in a 50cl bottle.

£108.60

Jurgen Gouws Intellego Syrah 2015 (6 x 75cl)

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition article 30 Great New World Buys under £30 (see blue link below).

Gouws Intellego Syrah 2015 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

Jurgen Gouws is the assistant winemaker at Lammershoek, the leading exponent of ‘natural’ wines in Swartland, which is where he also produces his own small batches of Chenin Blanc and Syrah. The approach is similar to that of Lammershoek, but not as extreme. Previous vintages of Intellego Syrah contained some Mourvedre, but this is a varietal wine made from old, unirrigated bush vines, mostly on decomposed granite soils. It’s a minimal-intervention red, unfined and unfiltered, although some sulphur dioxide is added at bottling. The fermentation takes place in older French oak (whole-bunch fermentation for 10 days), as per the Swartland Revolution norm. Maturation is for 9-10 months in old French oak barrels of 500-litre capacity.

£103.80

Iago Bitarishivili Chinuri Skin Contact Qvevri 4 2015 (6 x 75cl)

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition article (Expert's Choice) on Georgia (see blue link below).

Bitarishvili Chinuri Skin Contact 2015 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

Iago Bitarishvili’s family has made wine for hundreds of years; Iago started 30 years ago, and makes his one wine in much the same ways his ancient ancestors would have: Using Chinuri, an unusual variety indigenous to the Kartli region in central Georgia and noted for its acidity, he crushes the grapes in a large hollowed-out log, and pours the must - skins and all - directly into 300-year-old qvevri, where it remains for about six months.

The wine is decidedly cidery in flavor, and tannic, with a bitter spice that recalls digestivi; yet, in the end, it comes off feeling delicate, with a bright, lemony acidity adding light and lift. While some may find it rustic, others will find it fascinating to taste as it morphs over the course of several days’ exposure to air, and to pair with anything from sausages to vegetable samosas. (Wine & Spirits Magazine)

£99.90

Zurab Topuridze Saperavi 2015 (1 x 75cl)

Awarded 89 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition article (Expert's Choice) on Georgia (see blue link below).

Zurab Topuridze Saperavi - Feb 2018 Decanter review

After a 2 week maceration, this wine spent 7 months in Qvevri, (pottery tanks buried in ground), before being bottled.

This delicate wine has soft tannins, medium body with silky texture, gentle aromas of cherries, strawberries and wildflowers.

£20.35

Antica Enotria Rosso IGT Puglia 2015 (6 x 75cl)

Awarded 92 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 Italy supplement article on Puglia (see blue link below).

Antico Enotria Rosso Puglia 2015 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

These grapes reached the peak of ripeness during the first week of October. After harvesting and slightly crushing, the grapes were left to macerate on their skins and ferment at a controlled temperature for 8 days, then the wine was aged in steel tanks for 8 months before bottling.

Deep ruby red colour and violet nuances with a characteristic bouquet of cherries and forest berries. On the palate this wine is soft, dry, whit nice tannins and a good freshness.

£57.00

Bucci Verdicchio Classico Riserva 2014 (1x75cl)

Awarded 95 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition review of Italian Icon Wines (see blue link below).

Bucci Verdicchio Classico Riserva 2014 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

The Bucci family has been growing grapes in the Marche since the 1700s. Current custodian Ampelio Bucci has 26 hectares of vineyard on this 400 hectare estate, which is cultivated organically. Of these, 21 hectares are Verdicchio, spread over six separate vineyards. The old vines and low yields give wines of great intensity. Consultant winemaker at Villa Bucci is the legendary enologist Giorgio Grai, who has been there for nearly 30 years. He makes wines for ageing and complexity rather than freshness and simplicity.

The Riserva is only produced in the best vintages with fruit from the oldest vines (between 40 and 50 years old on average) and the best sites. There are six vineyards with different exposures and elevations to obtain more complexity in the final blend of each wine. Yields are kept low and vineyard management is certified organic with no herbicides or pesticides used. Soils are mainly calcareous (limestone), giving minerality to the wine, with around 30% clay, which retains moisture during the hot summers.

Vinification takes place in the underground winery, which is naturally cool so refrigeration is generally not necessary. Vinification takes place in stainless steel and Slovenian oak barrels of between 50 and 75 hectolitres, that are approximately 70 years old. Different vineyard parcels are vinified separately, aged for two years and then carefully blended before bottling.

An intense, complex and persistent bouquet of apricot compôte and spice with aromas of honey, beeswax, minerals and flint stone. Full bodied and with great depth, the wine finishes with hints of honey and nuts.

£27.85

Caggiano Taurasi Vigna Macchia dei Gotti DOCG 2013 (1 x 75cl)

Awarded 95 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition review of Italian Icon Wines (see blue link below) ....

Caggiano Taurasi Vigna Macchia dei Gotti 2013 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

... and awarded 93 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 Italy supplement article on Aglianico (see blue link below).

Caggiano Vigna Macchia dei Gotti Taurasi 2013 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

The Caggiano winery is based in the town of Taurasi, the heartland of Aglianico, which is the main focus of their production (they were the first ones to produce a Taurasi cru, aged Bordeaux-style exclusively in barriques in 1994). Antonio Caggiano, the founder of the winery, designed one of the wineries, the most spectacular in Campania in 1990. Today thousands of bottles are laid down in its galleries made of the local “tufo” stone waiting for the sturdy Aglianico to be ready to drink.

Fermentation is temperature-controlled, in stainless steel. The wine is fined in barriques for 12-18 months (varies friom harvest to harvest).

This is an intense and complex wine with aromas of red berry fruits on the nose and hints of vanilla and licorice appear on the palate along with wild strawberries and cranberries.

£29.80

Cantina Tramin Nussbaumer Gewurztraminer 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 93 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 Italy supplement article, My Dozen Dream Whites (see blue link below).

Tramin Nussbaumer Gewurz 2015 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

Cantina Tramin was founded in 1898 and has 310 member winegrowers who follow its strict directives on the cultivation of the vines. The vineyards are an integral part of the enchanting and picturesque landscape of the Alto-Adige region of Northern Italy and cover 260 hectares situated on the sunny slopes of the region at altitudes ranging from 250 to 850 metres above sea level. In 2011, Cantina Tramin gained the "Double Stella" award. This is given to a winery for achieving the prestigious 3 Bicchieri 20 times and is awarded by the Gambero Rosso.

The grapes are grown in a few select vineyards above the town of Tramin. The vines are trained to both the traditional Pergola system as well as the modern Guyot system and are 20 years old. The soil type is clay.

The grapes were crushed and briefly macerated to extract the aromatic characteristics of the grape. After pressing, the must was left to ferment at 18°C to 20°C in stainless steel tanks. The wine rested on the fine lees for 11 months, until bottled.

One of Italy's most awarded and elegant wines with intense aromas of rose petal, cinnamon and ripe tropical fruit with a touch of spice. Rich, with a full bodied texture and a balancing acidity which leads to a long, sustained and elegant finish.

A versatile wine which accompanies pork chops, veal and rich poultry dishes or Thai inspired cuisine.

This wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

£21.50

Conterno Fantino Sori Ginestra Barolo DOCG 2013 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 94 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 review of Barolo (see blue link below).

Conterno Fantino Sori Ginestra Barolo 2013 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

Conterno Fantino stands at the summit of 21st century Barolo, both literally and figuratively. From its stunning winery atop the Monforte d’Alba hill, this alliance of the Fantino and Conterno families produces a range of wines that are both unmistakably modern in approach, and also utterly respectful of the region’s wine-growing heritage. Established by Guido Fantino and brothers Diego and Claudio Conterno, the business now also includes Guido’s son, Fabio, ensuring the involvement of a second generation in a winery that has already accumulated a sizeable heritage. That heritage is centred on vineyards that balance the need for Nebbiolo with plantings of Barbera, Dolcetto, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. The 23 hectares have developed from Ginestra, one of the oldest named vineyards in this part of the world. The use of short maceration and French barriques places Conterno Fantino in the vanguard of Barolo modernism, with power and backbone to support the trademark texture, elegance and freshness. Meanwhile, Monprà’s blend of Nebbiolo, Barbera and a pinch of Cabernet Sauvignon takes Langhe Rosso to new levels.

This Barolo comes from the famous cru of the same name in Monteforte, an historic vineyard that is considered one of the finest for growing Nebbiolo. An attractive nose of roses, tar and ripe black fruits. This Barolo is of a more elegant, refined style with very fine tannins resulting in a silky texture.

£74.25

Fatalone Primitivo Gioia del Colle 2015 (6 x 75cl)

Awarded 93 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 Italy supplement article on Puglia (see blue link below).

Fatalone Primitivo Gioia del Colle 2015 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

There is spontaneous fermentation of the must in contact with the skin for 240-300 hours at controlled temperature and just with autochthonous yeasts. Open-cycle process with frequent pumping of the must over the pomace. Natural malolactic fermentation. No addition of sulphites during the whole vinification process.  Only after the end of the malolactic, re-integration of the sulphites lost during the vinification takes place to restore the initial natural value.

This wine is aged for 6 months in wine stainless steel tanks, 6 months in Slavonic oak casks with the application of music therapy for the fining process of the wine, 6 months in bottle.

Ruby red intense colour with violet glares. Scent and taste typically fruity of berries and slightly of black sour cherry and plum with some spicy and balsamic notes. A perfect balance of smoothness, freshness and minerality. Aftertaste of toasted almond, typical of a natural authentic Primitivo of Gioia del Colle.

Best served with strong flavoured dishes like pasta with rich sauces, roasted beef, game, grilled meat as well as fish and aged cheese.

£84.60

Feudi di San Gregorio Serpico Irpinia DOC Aglianico 2011 (1 x 75cl)

The 2009 vintage - long since depleted, alas - was awarded 96 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 Italy supplement article on Aglianico (see blue link below).

Feudi di San Gregorio Serpico Taurasi 2009 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

One of the main protagonists in the renaissance of Southern Italian wines, Feudi di San Gregorio has carved out a reputation for making truly world-class wines in less than 30 years. The company began in the mid 1980s with the aim of safeguarding local traditions, unlocking the potential of key indigenous grapes such as Fiano, Greco, Falanghina and Aglianico.

The Aglianico grapes are produced in a historic vineyard named "Dal Re". This historic region of the Appennine countryside is known as Irpinia and it has a unique terroir and climate in which vineyards coexist with fruit trees, olives and aromatic herbs. The winds here divert a beneficial rainfall which creates a microclimate in Irpinia that differs from Campania, the winters though brief are snowy and cold and the summers can be wet and prolonged. The soils are uniquely volcanic, sandstone and marl. Each vineyard is closely monitored with a meteorological station, and the technologies of the new state-of-the-art wine cellar ensures that each vintage comes as close to perfection as possible.

Fermentation and maceration took place in stainless steel tanksand lasted for approximately three to four weeks. The wine was matured for a minimum of 12 months in medium-toasted French barriques and barrels of 50hl. The wine was then aged for a minimum of 12 months in bottle, prior to release.

A complex wine bursting with cherry jam, sweet spices, liquorice, coffee and cocoa notes balanced with a beautiful spicy, minerality. A well structured wine with great length.

Excellent with roasted red meats, the finest poultry, game and aged cheese.

This wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

£37.20

Gianni Masciarelli Montepulciano DAbruzzo Villa Gemma 2011 (1 x 75cl)

Awarded 93 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 Italy supplement article on Abruzzo (see blue link below).

Masciarelli Montepulciano d'A Villa Gemma - Feb 2018 Decanter review

The flagship of this outstanding wine producer is the line that best embodies the style and taste of winemaker Gianni Masciarelli. Austere and important, Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Villa Gemma Rosso provides an unprecedented interpretation of this great indigenous vine, helping it to be included in the map of the world viticulture that counts. 

This wine was vinified using wood and underwent 15 - 20 days of fermentation before another 20 - 30 days of maceration to extract both colour and flavour from the grapes. Malolactic fermentation was then allowed to occur before the wine was allowed to mature in New French oak barrels for 18 months. It was then left to rest in bottle for a further 24 months before being released for sale.

This Villa Gemma has a deep ruby red colour with purple reflections. The nose is intense and persistent. There are flavours of ripe red fruits, dried fruits, spices, cocoa, black pepper and liquorice. 

It pairs effortlessly with wild boar that has been either roasted or marinated, roast lamb, game, aged cheeses and don't forget to try it with dark chocolate for a sublime flavour experience!

£43.85

Livio Felluga Terre Alte 2015 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 95 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 Italy supplement article, My Dozen Dream Whites (see blue link below).

Felluga Terre Alte 2015 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

Livio Felluga emigrated from Istria and established his property in Brazzano in the 1950s. Convinced of the winemaking potential inherent in Collio and the Colli Orientali of Friuli, he bucked the trend of the times and started buying vineyards. Their landmark Terre Alte was first produced in 1981 and they have continued to make innovative and consistently high quality wines since. Winemaker Andrea Felluga has embraced stelvin in a characteristically forward looking way. After experimenting with the closure for five years, he felt confident in using the stelvin closure to retain freshness and perfume in his wines.

The vines are Guyot-trained, with an ecologically sustainable approach to viticulture. Livio Felluga own 135 hectares of prime vineyard in Rosazzo, the best area in Friuli. The quality of the grapes reflects this even in difficult vintages.

The bunches were carefully destemmed and left to macerate for a short period. Next, the fruit was soft crushed. The must obtained was then allowed to settle. The Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon fermented at controlled temperatures in stainless steel tanks, where they matured for about ten months. The Friulano fermented and aged in small casks of French oak. The Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon matured in stainless steel while the Friulano stayed in small oak casks. After ageing for around 10 months, the wines were blended. This was then followed by nine months of ageing in bottle before release.

Intense straw yellow in colour, this is intense, elegant, complex and rich on the nose. Aromas of exotic fruit are perfectly integrated with notes of sage, white peach, elderflower, citrus peel and sweet almond. Fullbodied, structured and layered, this fine wine has a refreshing savoury minerality followed by a persistent, complex finish, with hints of candied citrus and vanilla.

£46.40

Marco De Bartoli Vecchio Samperi Perpetuo Marsala NV (1x 75cl)

Awarded 95 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition review of Italian Icon Wines (see blue link below).

de Bartoli Vecchio Samperi Marsala NV - Feb 2018 Decanter review

Vecchio Samperi was Marco De Bartoli’s first wine, his homage to the oldest form of Marsala wine as was encountered by Brit John Woodhouse when he landed in Marsala in 1773. This old, original style was made by a method called il perpetuum - essentially a form of solera aging, in which younger wine was used to replace older wine that had evaporated or been drawn off for drinking - and was the starting point for what become known worldwide as traditional Marsala wine (fortification came later as the techniques of Port, Madeira and Sherry found their way across the ocean to Sicily).

While the modern Marsala industry got away from this time-and-labor-intensive method as it was industrialized, De Bartoli's priority was to restore this method, along with the reputation of Marsala wine. Marco named his for the Contrada Samperi,the winegrowing area on the on the outskirts of Marsala where his estate vines are planted and whose hot, dry, sandy-loam soils, rich in limestone and minerals, are well suited to Grillo-growing; as the family puts it, the Vecchio Samperi "was the starting point to develop and communicate Marco's concept of 'terroir' ". Hewing to the original il perpetuum style, the De Bartoli Vecchio Samperi is not fortified, which is unusual for modern Marsala; and in fact, as pure and elemental a Marsala as this wine is, it is not recognized by the local authorities as DOC Marsala.

As with all of De Bartoli's Marsala-style wines, the only grape used is Grillo, grown organically and harvested by hand on the De Bartoli estate. The wine is fermented with natural yeasts and aged in oak and chestnut vats; about 5% of the total volume of wine is replaced with wine from the new vintage each year. The average age of wine in this solera is 20 years minimum. As noted above, the Vecchio Samperi is emphatically not fortified at any point. Vecchio Samperi's fine acidity balances the bit of RS beautifully, rendering it basically dry. It is relatively light in body, with floral and candied-orange aromas and flavours, with a gently nutty, seaspray-tinged finish.

 

£46.75

Monte dall Ora Amarone Classico La Stropa 2009 (1 x 75cl)

Awarded 92 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 article on Amarone (see blue link below).

Monte dall'Ora Amarone La Stropa 2009 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

This wine is from the vineyards of Monte Dall’Ora in the heart of Valpolicella's classica zone, which enjois excellent exposure to sunlight and has a limestone soil. The vineyards are 50 years old.

The grapes are selected only from vineyards that are between 50 - 70 years old. The harvest began on the first week of October, selecting only the finest bunches in crates and placing these in well-ventilated rooms for 5 months, without the use of any mechanical drying aids.

Vinification takes place in the month of February following the vintage, with maceration and fermentation being completed in tonneaux of Slavonian oak for 25 - 30days. Pumping over and punching down the cap are carried out manually. Maturation is carried out in French oak  tonneaux of 5 hl for 4 years and the wine is subsequently aged in bottle for a further 12 months.

The La Stropa Amarone has a dark brilliant ruby red colour with a hint of garnet which it has developed with age. On the nose, it displays perfumes of ripe fruits, such as plums, blackberries, redcurrants and at the endthere are balsamic hints as well as spices. On the palate, it echoes the sensation offered on the nose: structured, extremely persistent, full and elegant.

This wine is excellent when served with aged cheese and dishes with intense flavours such as braised meats and wild game.

£69.50

Nicola Bergaglio Gavi Di Gavi La Minaia 2016 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 91 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 Italy supplement article on Gavi (see blue link below).

Bergaglio Gavi di Gavi La Minaia 2016 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

Pale gold in colour with flashes of diamond brilliance, it has a light, fresh, mineral and citrus bouquet. The palate is crisp and dry, with a hint of ripe pears and a complex array of red and green apples, the finish is mouthwateringly refreshing and lengthy.

£13.50

Pian Dell Orino Brunello Di Montalcino 2011 (1x75cl)

The 2009 vintage was awarded 97 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 Italy supplement article on Brunello di Montalcino (see blue link below).

Pian dell'Orino BdM 2009 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

Individual berries were carefully hand selected in the vineyard as well as on the sorting table to ensure that only ripe and firm berries made their way into the fermentation vats.

After the grapes were destemmed they very carefully separated the best grapes from dried or too ripe grape berries, from leaves, stalks and insects. Then they were transferred to the barrel for vinification where the fermetation started after two days. It is their practice never to add sulphur to the grapes or cool them down in order to delay fermentation. On the second day, spontaneous fermentation caused by the grapes’ inherent yeast content started quite tumultously reaching a maximum temperature of 35°C, but then slowed down a lot towards the end. Then the must macerated another 2 weeks before the young wine was transferred into 30 hl Slavonian oak casks where it matured for 46 month. The malolactic fermentation took effect in the oak barrels. Neither artificial yeast or bacteria nor any other enzymatic or technological additives were used during the whole process of transformation of the wine in order to maintain the authentic and characteristic taste of both the vineyards and the vintage.

After maturing in the barrels, when the wine becomes stabilized and appears brilliant, it is bottled without using a filter. The wine is left to mature in the bottle for at least one year before labelling and release.

£61.80

Pieropan Soave Classico 2016 (1x37.5cl)

Awarded 90 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 Italy supplement article, My Dozen Dream Whites (see blue link below).

Pieropan Soave Classico 2016 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

Pieropan's estate covers 46 hectares of vineyard which are situated on the stony hills of Soave Classico. The Pieropan family has been producing wines in Soave since the 1890s. Indeed, they were the first producer to bottle a wine with the name Soave on the label in the early 1930s. Nino Pieropan took over from his father in 1970 and was the first producer in Soave to make a single vineyard wine, 'Calvarino', in 1971. Nino's two sons, Andrea and Dario, now work with him running the estate. From the 2015 vintage onwards, all Pieropan wines are organically certified.

The soil is clay-basalt and volcanic in origin. Yields are low and the vines south facing. The fruit come from hillside vineyards (100- 300 m above sea level) in the heart of the Soave classico area. They grapes of Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave (no relation to its prolific Tuscan namesake) are grown without the use of pesticides or chemicals.

The 2016 season saw many similarities to 2015, with a cooler winter and abundant rainfall. The beginning of the vegetative cycle saw alternate dry and rainy periods, which allowed the plants to develop perfectly. The hot and dry summer that followed led to an abundant harvest of high quality grapes.

Grapes of Trebbiano di Soave are hand-picked starting from midSeptember while the Garganega grapes are picked later in October. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed with the free run juice fermented separately between 14-18°C in glass-lined cement tanks. The wine remains in glass-lined cement tanks on the fine lees for a period which varies according to the vintage. In the spring following the harvest the wine is bottled and then released after at least a further month in bottle.

A fresh and expressive Soave, with classic white flower, almond blossom and a touch of citrus. Rounded, ripe fruit is perfectly balanced by a fresh, clean acidity. Long and fragrant, it has a note of fine, almond pastry on the finish

£7.60

Pieropan Soave Classico 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 Italy supplement article, My Dozen Dream Whites (see blue link below).

Pieropan Soave Classico 2016 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

Pieropan's estate covers 46 hectares of vineyard which are situated on the stony hills of Soave Classico. The Pieropan family has been producing wines in Soave since the 1890s. Indeed, they were the first producer to bottle a wine with the name Soave on the label in the early 1930s. Nino Pieropan took over from his father in 1970 and was the first producer in Soave to make a single vineyard wine, 'Calvarino', in 1971. Nino's two sons, Andrea and Dario, now work with him running the estate. From the 2015 vintage onwards, all Pieropan wines are organically certified.

The soil is clay-basalt and volcanic in origin. Yields are low and the vines south facing. The fruit come from hillside vineyards (100- 300 m above sea level) in the heart of the Soave classico area. They grapes of Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave (no relation to its prolific Tuscan namesake) are grown without the use of pesticides or chemicals.

The 2016 season saw many similarities to 2015, with a cooler winter and abundant rainfall. The beginning of the vegetative cycle saw alternate dry and rainy periods, which allowed the plants to develop perfectly. The hot and dry summer that followed led to an abundant harvest of high quality grapes.

Grapes of Trebbiano di Soave are hand-picked starting from midSeptember while the Garganega grapes are picked later in October. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed with the free run juice fermented separately between 14-18°C in glass-lined cement tanks. The wine remains in glass-lined cement tanks on the fine lees for a period which varies according to the vintage. In the spring following the harvest the wine is bottled and then released after at least a further month in bottle.

A fresh and expressive Soave, with classic white flower, almond blossom and a touch of citrus. Rounded, ripe fruit is perfectly balanced by a fresh, clean acidity. Long and fragrant, it has a note of fine, almond pastry on the finish.

We like this because we know that Soave is not in fashion. And that's mainly because the world is awash with bad Soave. Good Soave is hard to find and hugely worthwhile when you find it. Nobody should be surprised that Pieroapan lie behind many of the very best Soaves and this, their workhorse, is delightful. with all the tightness and freshness that good Soave should have. At the price, it's terrific.

£13.30

Planeta Cometa 2016 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 94 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 Italy supplement article, My Dozen Dream Whites (see blue link below).

Planeta Cometa 2016 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

It was early days for the Planeta family when they first visited Enotria – this Sicilian winery may be a byword for innovation and knowing the market now, but at that time in the mid-1990s they didn’t even have a label for their wine. What they did have was a vision that has played a key role in revolutionising the image and quality of Sicilian wines, founded on an unrivalled knowledge of the land forged by many years as grape growers. When the change was made in the 1990s, expertise came from a source that is as surprising as it is illustrative of the breadth of the Planeta vision: Australia. The winemaker brought in by Diego Planeta was an Italian – Carlo Corino – but one who had learned the latest warm-climate winemaking secrets in Mudgee, New South Wales. Planeta’s wines have captured the intrinsic perfume and fresh flavours of Sicily’s grapes ever since. This – at the time – unconventional approach extended to the winemaking, with Planeta establishing a cult following for its barrel-aged Chardonnay at a time when most Italian white wines were typically consumed straight out of the fermenter.

That early success gave Planeta the credibility to open the world’s eyes to the charms of Sicily’s indigenous grape varieties, ushering in a broad range of wines that today owes as much to Grecanico and Nero d’Avola as it does to the winery’s signature Chardonnay. The ever-dynamic Planeta continue to move their inspirational projects forward. They have launched a wine made with grapes grown on the slopes of Mount Etna, began an environmental project called Planeta Terra, and opened a resort hotel, La Foresteria, in Menfi. Nothing stands still for Planeta!

Deep straw yellow in colour with a green hue. Intense and full of character, with integrated aromatic notes of citrus and tropical fruit, white peach, pink grapefruit and wisteria. On the palate it has plenty of character with elegantly mineral elements. The acidity is well integrated with the fruit, making for a harmonious whole which is without a doubt one of the finest examples of this variety to be found anywhere on the planet. Deep straw yellow in colour with a green hue. Intense and full of character, with integrated aromatic notes of citrus and tropical fruit, white peach, pink grapefruit and wisteria. On the palate it has plenty of character with elegantly mineral elements. The acidity is well integrated with the fruit, making for a harmonious whole which is without a doubt one of the finest examples of this variety to be found anywhere on the planet.

£20.10

Riserva del Fondatore Giulio Ferrari 2006 (1 x 75cl)

Awarded a very rare 98 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition review of Italian Icon Wines (see blue link below).

Ferrari Giulio 2006 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

Inspired by the example of Champagne and informed by his winemaking studies in Montpellier, Giulio Ferrari’s vision for the products which bear his name was unstinting: to make the finest Metodo Classico sparkling wines in Italy. A bold pledge in 1902, but to this day, the wines of Ferrari remain true to their original creator, persisting through the arrival of the Lunelli family as owners of the business in 1952. It’s an approach that has now persisted through two more generations. This consistent philosophy has turned Giulio’s dream into reality, with Ferrari today acknowledged as the finest sparkling wine producer in the country.

The iconic Italian sparkling wine par excellence, Giulio Ferrari is an outstanding product that is designed to stand the test of time. It is a Trentodoc obtained from the finest Chardonnay grapes from the Lunelli family’s own vineyards on the slopes of the mountainsides that surround Trento, at up to 600 meters above sea level. It matures on its lees for over 10 years, acquiring great complexity but, at the same time, maintaining balance, freshness and elegance.  It has obtained extremely high ratings in the most authoritative trade magazines, including 98/100 from Decanter and 96/100 from the Wine Advocate. Giulio Ferrari is also the only sparkler that has been selected by “Wine Spectator” as one of Italy’s top 10 wines (for its “Best of Italy Tasting” at the Wine Experience) and it has been selected by “Wine Enthusiast” for its “Top 100 Wine Cellar Selection”.

2006 was an extraordinary year for the grapes destined for making Trentodoc. The long, cold winter delayed the start of the vegetative cycle by about two weeks, but exceptionally hot, dry weather at the end of spring and the beginning of summer allowed the vines to catch up to some extent. In August, abundant rains built up the water reserves and, at the same time, created a cooler climate. The Chardonnay cultivated on our mountainside vineyards developed particularly rich aromas and an excellent level of health, both of which were preserved by the favourable weather conditions during the harvest, which began on 24th August.

It presents itself in the glass with a glowing golden hue, highlighted by extremely fine, persistent bubbles. The bouquet displays an incredible succession of sensations that continue to alternate, ranging from citrus zest to creamy eggnog, from mango to sugared almonds, and from acacia blossom to freshly baked brioche, all underpinned by an enticing hint of iodine. The entry on the palate is sumptuous in its unbridled elegance and light in its incredibly concentrated fruitiness, which offers reminiscences of ripe pineapple, dried fruits and toasted hazelnuts. The finish is very refined, revealing lingering brackish notes that give even greater length to the aftertaste.

£61.80

Torre Del Falasco Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso 2014 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 Italy supplement article on Italy's Best Co-Operatives (see blue link below).

Falasco Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso 2014 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

The Torre del Falasco wines are the standard bearers of this co-operative, situated in the Valpantena, northeast of Verona. Known as the ’valley of god’ to the ancient Greeks, this area is well-known for its high quality red wines, due partly to the soils but also because of the cool breeze that blows down the valley from the foothills of the Dolomites. Run by Luca Degani since 1995, the Cantina di Valpantena is now one of Italy’s best co-operatives, with 700 hectares of vineyard producing excellent quality fruit. 

The grapes for the Valpolicella Ripasso are grown on the steeply terraced hillside vineyards belonging to the co-operative, where soils are chalky and poor. The wine is a blend of two traditional Valpolicella varieties, Corvina and Rondinella

On arrival at the winery, the grapes were destemmed and crushed then fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks at 22-28°C. Maceration lasted ten days. Once fermentation was complete, a second fermentation took place on the skins of the Amarone Torre del Falasco in the traditional 'ripasso' method. The wine remained in large oak barrels until bottling.

Aromas of dried cherry and dark plums are followed by hints of mocha and dark chocolate on the nose. A powerful, full-bodied palate opens with a spiced fruit character and supportive tannins. Raisin and candied peel notes come from the 'ripasso' method and are layered with rounded, ripe cherry flavours. The finish is long with added spicy nutmeg notes.

£13.20

Valentini Trebbiano DAbruzzo 2013 (1x 75cl)

Awarded a rare 98 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition review of Italian Icon Wines (see blue link below).

Valentini Trebbiano 2013 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

Francesco Paolo Valentini continues his enigmatic father Edoardo’s famously secretive winemaking traditions with this delicious wine made from the Trebbiano Abruzzese grape (and not the less interesting and ubiquitous Trebbiano Toscano).

Choosing only 10% of the harvested fruit for his wines, Francesco Paolo presses the grapes with old-style basket presses and ages the wine briefly in old, neutral Slavonian oak casks. The wine is bottled the following spring; malolactic fermentation occurs in the bottle, helping preserve the wine with a touch of carbon dioxide (and hence less use of sulphur dioxide). 

Has a wild and rich nose of citrus fruits, lemon oil, acacia flowers and wild mushrooms. On the palate, there’s ripe apricots and pears, a touch of lemon pith, verbena flowers and a medium acidity that gives the wine energy. Delicious.

See also this blog from Wine Spectator.

£91.85

Via Nuova Barolo E.Pira & Figli Chiara Boschis 2013 (1 x 75cl)

Awarded 95 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 review of Barolo (see blue link below).

Pira & Figli Chiara Boschis Via Nuova Barolo 2013 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

Since 1990, this jewel of Barolo has been run by the energetic and multi-talented Chiara Boschis, with the explicit goal of adding an aromatically elegant edge to the legendary power of these great wines. She has added vineyards in Monforte to the original estate, but the heart of E. Pira remains as it was in the days of the late Luigi Pira – just 2.5 hectares of vines in Barolo’s prized enclaves of Cannubi, Cannubi San Lorenzo, and Via Nuova. These are now managed organically, with painstaking selection and a strict eye for detail at harvest time. The winemaking uses modern techniques to maximise expression and approachability, resulting in wines that combine longevity with a benign drinkability for those who cannot wait to open them. In the case of Cannubi, all ripe fruit, sweet spice and signature hints of mint and eucalyptus.

The Barolo Via Nuova has a lively garnet ruby color with an intense nose of notes of dried flowers, spice, red fruit, almond and citrus fruits. Good body, nice tannins and a long finish. When first opened it is a little timid, but with time in the glass or prior decanting it opens up nicely.

£62.50

Vietti Barolo Castiglione 2012 (1x 75cl)

The 2013 vintage was awarded 95 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 review of Barolo (see blue link below).

Vietti Castigione Barolo 2013 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

The history of Vietti can be traced back to the 19th century, when Mario Vietti made his first wines, selling most of his production to local villagers. Mario’s fame as a winemaker spread and over time the Vietti name became synonymous with brilliant wines, not just in the local area but across the world. Always looking to grow and innovate, the family was one of the first in Barolo to export wine and to release single-vineyard wines that showcase the individual terroirs of the region. Today, Vietti is one of the first rank of Barolo producers and its wines are highly sought-after. The single-vineyard wines are all astonishing but the Castiglione (made from fruit sourced from across Vietti’s sites) is our favourite: a textbook Barolo with elegance, power, fruit and spice.

After harvesting, the grapes are gently pressed and transferred to stainless steel tanks. The must is fermented in contact with the grape skins over a period of 15 days in order to extract maximum colour and flavour. The wine is then aged for 24 months in casks, and then aged in stainless steel tanks for 8 months before release.

Pale ruby colour with garnet hues and powerful aromas of rich, ripe cherries with intricate complexities of spice, tea leaves and rose petals. With strong, rich tannins, crisp acidity and masculine structure, this ageworthy Barolo shows incredible finesse with excellent balance, integration and a long, lingering finish.

£38.90

Vigne Marina Coppi Fausto Timorasso 2014 (1x75cl)

Awarded 94 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 Italy supplement article, My Dozen Dream Whites (see blue link below).

Vigne Marina Coppi Fausto Timorasso 2013 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

Vigne Marina Coppi was established in 2003 in the town of Castellania, the birthplace of Marina's father Fausto, one of the greatest cyclists of the 20th century. The family has taken the traditional heritage of the area and applied a modern approach in the winery to produce wines of excellent quality. The estate has concentrated on the native varieties of Timorasso, Favorita, Barbera, Nebbiolo and Croatina and works on a small scale with four hectares of vineyard to ensure the quality of the vines shows through. Parents Marina and Giovanni work closely with son Francesco and his wife Anna, using sustainable methods in the vineyard and employing great expertise in the winery.

The vineyards are situated mid-slope at 400 metres in an ideal microclimate that is protected from the cold northerly winds. There are marked diurnal temperature differences, as well as distinct seasonal differences, with one of the lowest rainfalls in Piemonte. The grey/light blue soil is called Marl of Sant'Agata and comprises 55% clay, 15% limestone and 30% sandy deposits. This wine is dedicated to Fausto.

The grapes were hand-harvested in the early hours of the morning to preserve the fresh aromas of the varietal. Whole bunches were soft pressed then the cold must was racked to stainless steel tanks for fermentation, which took place at 15 degrees. The malolactic fermentation was inhibited in order to retain acidity. The wine matured on the lees for 10 months in temperature-controlled stainless steel with manual battonage. The wine was bottled in July then aged for a further nine months before release.

The 2013 Fausto is pale yellow with aromas of hawthorn blossom, pear and apple leaf. Its distinct mineral vein is rounded out by a lovely warmth and fresh acidity in equal measure. Well structured, with an attractive, persistent finish.

£31.50
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